India keeping close watch for kidnapped worker (Third Lead)

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:53 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi/Kabul, April 22 (IANS) An Indian national in western Afghanistan, missing since Monday morning, remainéd untraced as Indian authorities Tuesday said they were closely monitoring developments. India is “keeping a close watch on further developments concerning this incident”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said.

According to reports, Sarang Mohammad Naeem, who is working for the Dubai-based HEB International Logistics, was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Herat province Monday evening.

“The Afghan government authorities are investigating the matter but he remains untraced till now,” said Sarna.

The Afghan government has conveyed to India that local authorities were investigating the incident and had sent out search parties to comb Herat province, official sources said in New Delhi.

“They said they are trying their best to pin down the kidnappers,” an official said. The Indian mission in Afghanistan is in touch with the Afghan authorities over the incident.

The kidnappers, who have not been identified, are yet to make any ransom or other demand. They have not issued any death threat either for the abducted Indian worker.

But going by the past record and a sharp escalation in Taliban-led violence in Afghanistan, the radical militia known for advocating an orthodox strain of Islam is suspected to be behind the kidnapping, sources said in New Delhi.

The kidnapping takes place less than a fortnight after a suicide bomber April 12 blew himself up next to an Indian road crew in Afghanistan, killing two Indian workers and their Afghan driver.

Undeterred by suicide attacks on Indian road construction workers, India has reiterated its determination to continue its assistance to reconstruct the war-torn country.

India has pledged $850 million for developmental projects in Afghanistan - a gateway to the energy-rich Central Asia.

Unlike the last time when Indians working on building the crucial 218-km road from Zaranj to Delaram on the Iran-Afghanistan border were targeted, the motive of the hijackers this time is not known.

This is the third incident this year of attacks targeting Indian workers in Afghanistan that faces a renewed threat from a resurgent Taliban.

On Jan 3, a suicide bomber ambushed a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) convoy, killing two Indians - Manoj Kumar Singh and Desha Singh of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Five people were injured in the attack.

According to a DPA report Tuesday, two road construction workers - an Indian and a Nepali - went missing in western Afghanistan’s province of Herat, and a police official said he feared the two were kidnapped by an unknown group.

The workers went missing on the way between Herat city and Adraskan district of the province Monday evening, said Noor Khan Nikzad, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.

“They were travelling in a taxi and the police found their abandoned vehicle in Adraskan district,” he said.

He said he thought the two missing men were both Indian nationals.

Over 4,000 Indians are engaged in activities relating to the construction of various infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

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